1. Common Concept of God in Hinduism: Hinduism is commonly perceived as a polytheistic religion. Indeed, most Hindus would attest to this, by professing belief in multiple Gods. While some Hindus believe in the existence of three gods, some believe in thousands of gods, and some others in thirty three crore i.e. 330 million Gods. However, learned Hindus, who are well versed in their scriptures, insist that a Hindu should believe in and worship only one God.
The major difference between the Hindu and the Muslim perception of God is the common Hindus’ belief in the philosophy of Pantheism. Pantheism considers everything, living and non-living, to be Divine and Sacred. The common Hindu, therefore, considers everything as God. He considers the trees as God, the sun as God, the moon as God, the monkey as God, the snake as God and even human beings as manifestations of God!
Islam, on the contrary, exhorts man to consider himself and his surroundings as examples of Divine Creation rather than as divinity itself. Muslims therefore believe that everything is God’s i.e. the word ‘God’ with an apostrophe ‘s’. In other words the Muslims believe that everything belongs to God.
The trees belong to God, the sun belongs to God, the moon belongs to God, the monkey belongs to God, the snake belongs to God, the human beings belong to God and everything in this universe belongs to God.
Thus the major difference between the Hindu and the Muslim beliefs is the difference of the apostrophe ‘s’. The Hindu says everything is God. The Muslim says everything is God’s.
2. Concept of God according to Hindu Scriptures:
We can gain a better understanding of the concept of God in Hinduism by analysing Hindu scriptures.
The most popular amongst all the Hindu scriptures is the Bhagavad Gita.
Consider the following verse from the Gita:
"Those whose intelligence has been stolen by material desires surrender unto demigods and follow the particular rules and regulations of worship according to their own natures."
[Bhagavad Gita 7:20]
The Gita states that people who are materialistic worship demigods i.e. ‘gods’ besides the True God.
The Upanishads are considered sacred scriptures by the Hindus.
The following verses from the Upanishads refer to the Concept of God:
1. "Ekam evadvitiyam"
"He is One only without a second."
[Chandogya Upanishad 6:2:1]1
2. "Na casya kascij janita na cadhipah."
"Of Him there are neither parents nor lord."
[Svetasvatara Upanishad 6:9]2
3. "Na tasya pratima asti"
"There is no likeness of Him."
[Svetasvatara Upanishad 4:19]3
4. The following verses from the Upanishad allude to the inability of man to imagine God in a particular form:
"Na samdrse tisthati rupam asya, na caksusa pasyati kas canainam."
"His form is not to be seen; no one sees Him with the eye."
[Svetasvatara Upanishad 4:20]4
1[The Principal Upanishad by S. Radhakrishnan page 447 and 448]
[Sacred Books of the East, volume 1 ‘The Upanishads part I’ page 93]
2[The Principal Upanishad by S. Radhakrishnan page 745]
[Sacred Books of the East, volume 15, ‘The Upanishads part II’ page 263.]
3[The Principal Upanishad by S. Radhakrishnan page 736 & 737]
[Sacred Books of the East, volume 15, ‘The Upanishads part II’ page no 253]
4[The Principal Upanishad by S. Radhakrishnan page 737]
[Sacred Books of the East, volume 15, ‘The Upanishads part II’ page no 253]
Vedas are considered the most sacred of all the Hindu scriptures. There are four principal Vedas: Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samveda and Atharvaveda.
The following verses from the Yajurveda echo a similar concept of God:
1. "na tasya pratima asti"
"There is no image of Him."
2. "shudhama poapvidham"
"He is bodyless and pure."
3. "Andhatama pravishanti ye asambhuti mupaste"
"They enter darkness, those who worship the natural elements" (Air, Water, Fire, etc.). "They sink
deeper in darkness, those who worship sambhuti."
4. Sambhuti means created things, for example table, chair, idol, etc.
The Yajurveda contains the following prayer:
"Lead us to the good path and remove the sin that makes us stray and wander."
5[Yajurveda by Devi Chand M.A. page 377]
6[Yajurveda Samhita by Ralph T. H. Giffith page 538]
7[Yajurveda Samhita by Ralph T. H. Giffith page 538]
8[Yajurveda Samhita by Ralph T. H. Griffith page 541]
The Atharvaveda praises God in Book 20, hymn 58 and verse 3:
1. "Dev maha osi"
"God is verily great"
1. The oldest of all the vedas is Rigveda. It is also the one considered most sacred by the Hindus.
The Rigveda states in Book 1, hymn 164 and verse 46: "Sages (learned Priests) call one God by many
2. The Rigveda gives several different attributes to Almighty God. Many of these are mentioned in
Rigveda Book 2 hymn 1.
Among the various attributes of God, one of the beautiful attributes mentioned in the Rigveda Book II hymn 1 verse 3, is Brahma. Brahma means ‘The Creator’. Translated into Arabic it means Khaaliq. Muslims can have no objection if Almighty God is referred to as Khaaliq or ‘Creator’ or Brahma. However if it is said that Brahma is Almighty God who has four heads with each head having a crown, Muslims take strong exception to it.
Describing Almighty God in anthropomorphic terms also goes against the following verse of Yajurveda:
"Na tasya Pratima asti"
"There is no image of Him."
Another beautiful attribute of God mentioned in the Rigveda Book II hymn 1 verse 3 is Vishnu. Vishnu means ‘The Sustainer’. Translated into Arabic it means Rabb. Again, Muslims can have no objection if Almighty God is referred to as Rabb or 'Sustainer' or Vishnu. But the popular image of
9[Atharveda Samhita vol 2 William Dwight Whitney page 910]
Vishnu among Hindus, is that of a God who has four arms, with one of the right arms holding the Chakra, i.e. a discus and one of the left arms holding a ‘conch shell’, or riding a bird or reclining on a snake couch. Muslims can never accept any image of God. As mentioned earlier this also goes against Svetasvatara Upanishad Chapter 4 verse 19.
"Na tasya pratima asti"
"There is no likeness of Him"
The following verse from the Rigveda Book 8, hymn 1, verse 1 refer to the Unity and Glory of the Supreme Being:
3. "Ma cid anyad vi sansata sakhayo ma rishanyata"
"O friends, do not worship anybody but Him, the Divine One. Praise Him alone."
4. "Devasya samituk parishtutih"
"Verily, great is the glory of the Divine Creator."
Brahma Sutra of Hinduism:
The Brahma Sutra of Hinduism is:
"Ekam Brahm, dvitiya naste neh na naste kinchan"
"There is only one God, not the second; not at all, not at all, not in the least bit."
Thus only a dispassionate study of the Hindu scriptures can help one understand the concept of God in Hinduism.
0[Rigveda Samhita vol. 9, pages 2810 and 2811 by Swami Satya Prakash Sarasvati and Satyakam Vidyalankar]
11[Rigveda Samhita vol. 6, pages 1802 and 1803 by Swami Satya Prakash Saraswati and Satyakam Vidyalankar]
as from the sun." The Prophecy confirms:
1. The name of the Prophet as Ahmed since Ahmed is an Arabic name. Many translators misunderstood it to be ‘Ahm at hi’ and translated the mantra as "I alone have acquired the real wisdom of my father".
2. Prophet was given eternal law, i.e. the Shariah.
3. The Rishi was enlightened by the Shariah of Prophet Muhammad. The Qur’an says in Surah Saba Chapter 34 verse 28 (34:28):
"We have not sent thee but as a universal (Messenger) to men, giving them glad tidings and warning them (against sin), but most men understand not."
When Islam is against idol worship, why do the Muslims worship and bow down to the Ka’bah in their prayer?
Ka’bah is the Qibla i.e. the direction Muslims face during their prayers. It is important to note that though Muslims face the Ka’bah during prayers, they do not worship the Ka’bah. Muslims worship and bow to none but Allah.
It is mentioned in Surah Al Baqarah:
The other day, I was out with my friends, the four of us were sipping the best possible filter coffee in the South Indian city of Chennai (Madras). The un-Indianness of the city, and the state, never ceased to amaze me and as a staunch nationalist my three friends had to listen to brazen idea after idea of how we could mend it.
As any (North) Indian would testify, making Hindi compulsory is the first solution. Granted that is done and by some miracle a generation later all of Tamil Nadu speaks Hindi, would the nation be any stronger, better off by adding 80 million people to the Hindi-speaking world?
My problem was never the un-Indianness of the southern states or the North Eastern ones, it was the un-Indianness of all of India. What do we, as a nation, believe in? What do we believe is our place in the world? Can we, as a people, pull together and achieve it? But rather more pertinent would be to wonder whether we belong to each other, to the same "nation"? The North to the South and the East to the West. The Hindus to the Muslims and the Buddhists to the Sikhs. The Telugus to the Rajasthani and the Kashmiris to Biharis. Let's leave the more pertinent questions for later, including my statement of the un-Indianness of Chennai. These are deep questions indeed, and hopefully in the course of these posts, I will touch upon them.
By the time the coffee sipping came around, I was pretty deep into my study of ethnicity. My brazen idea that day was to give any child born anywhere in the world, to an Indian parent/s or even a single Indian grandparent an Indian passport - ethnic nationalism. I knew the shortfalls of what I had just uttered. Being Indian is a very hard thing to define. A thousand different languages, the birthplace of four religions and a land inhabited by immigrant upon immigrant were all mitigating factors, let alone the right to self-determinism. Somewhere in the argument I also said India is the land of Hindus, and you can imagine the umbrage of the two Catholics in the group. They said they are just as Indian and they are absolutely right. Generation upon generation has grown up being taught that each of one us, irrespective of caste or religion, is Indian. Nothing Orwellian here folks. All Indians are just as equal.
I will let today's post deal with just one facet of strengthening the national identity - statecraft, India gave it to the world after all. (for the uninitiated, Chanakya pre-dates Machiavelli by more than 1500 years and it is hard to believe Machiavelli didn't read Arthashastra before writing his Arthashastra). That one organ of the nation which remains sacrosanct - untouched by political parties, essentially a propaganda machine. As silly as it sounds, it is the best starting point. To instill pride among a people, we need to be told of our victories, of our greatness; very often. The victories at WTO, where the nation won concessions to well, continue giving concessions to the poor, the Indian aid to build the Afghan Parliament premises, the Indian involvement in Maldives, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh must all be trumpeted. No nation is foolish enough to not act in national interest, but if ever there was one which looks to "just help" and take stock of the situation later, it is India. This must be known to Indians and the world. The treatment of Indian Muslims is perhaps as good as it gets anywhere in the world, including the Islamic world. There are separate Haj terminals at the major airports to facilitate their pilgrimage to Mecca. And we have built them without ever facilitating travel to Amarnath, Kedarnath, Puri or the Kumbh Mela (all Hindu places of pilgrimage/congregations). For the 1 billion plus Hindus, there are no special arrangements to visit any of these places, and yet they are more than happy to accommodate the pilgrimage to Mecca. I don't know of another country which does this. This is not to raise questions about equality, but to re-enforce the truth of our equality. Equality which we give each other, the day we were born, yet we seem to forget it because it is so commonplace. Granted, that is the best form of equality - the unconscious form, but in a nation being put through major sectarian violence at least once every decade, these messages need to be enforced.